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   New app to provide deep insights about dementia

New app to provide deep insights about dementia

Published : Jun 6, 2016, 9:35 am IST
Updated : Jun 6, 2016, 9:35 am IST

The app, called A Walk Through Dementia, was developed by Alzheimer's Research UK and virtual reality company VISYON.

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The app, called A Walk Through Dementia, was developed by Alzheimer's Research UK and virtual reality company VISYON.

London

: Scientists have developed a virtual reality smartphone app to help people gain insight into the varied symptoms people with dementia experience in everyday life.

The app, called A Walk Through Dementia, was developed by Alzheimer's Research UK and virtual reality company VISYON, and uses the widely-available Google Cardboard headset to put the public in the shoes of someone with dementia.

This is the first time a smartphone Cardboard app has been used to engage the public with the condition, researchers said.

The experience uses a combination of computer generated environments and 360 degree video sequences to illustrate in powerful detail how even the most everyday task of making a cup of tea can become a challenge for someone with dementia.

Unfolding over three scenarios, the user is tasked with buying ingredients, taking them home and making a cup of tea for their family. A supermarket environment unveils difficulties at the checkout, counting money, reading the shopping list, busy environments and finding items.

A second street sequence illustrates problems people with dementia may face with navigation, visual-spatial problems and disorientation.

Finally, back at home, making tea for visiting family presents challenges around memorising instructions, visual symptoms and coordination problems.

"Dementia is commonly misunderstood, so A Walk Through Dementia is designed to offer the public a clearer picture of the challenges that people living with the condition face in everyday life," said Hilary Evans, Chief Executive of Alzheimer's Research UK.

"The app also gives a poignant insight into the emotional impact of symptoms, an element that people with dementia told us was important to achieve," Evans said.

"Although each person with dementia experiences the condition differently, and it would be hard to recreate the full range of complex symptoms, harnessing new technology like virtual reality helps us engage people with the impact of dementia on a new level," she said.

"With a condition as misunderstood as dementia, the power of this technology to inform and connect with people could really change attitudes," said Pere Perez, CEO at VISYON.